From Freshmen Leadership Organizations to large-scale class socials, those first weeks of freshman year are chock full of class bonding and opportunity. Tech has even created special programs, like the Freshman Experience Program, to help create a supportive environment for incoming freshmen.
Until recently there were not any opportunities for sophomores to participate in programs similar to Freshmen Experience. However, the scenario is beginning to change.
Success @ Tech, the provider of the Freshman Experience program, has just begun a parallel program for sophomores: the Sophomore Success Program. The program, which is really a compilation of programs and resources now being combined in one location, is a new initiative and just started this past fall.
A couple of components led to the creation of the Sophomore Success Program. First, in 2008 the student population voiced its desire for some sort of resource for second- year students. Additionally, the Sophomore Summit was revived in 2008 and brought sophomores together to discuss issues that sophomores face, like the “sophomore slump.”
At the same time, Dr. Anderson Smith, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, set up a task force to design a way to continue the support system extended to first year students on into their second year. The results of the task force are the ThinkBig living communities now available to all students who want a chance to interact with faculty outside the classroom and a concerted effort to bring together programs already in place for sophomores across the campus as well as bring in more large scale events and programs.
This latter effort resulted in Eric Tack’s position, Coordinator of Sophomore and Transition Programs, within the Office of Success Programs.
“Tech does a great job retaining students in their freshman year—other universities look to our Freshman Experience program when creating their own—but there is a gap between that experience and the one students have when they return for their second year,” said Tack.
Some of the goals of the programs are restoring the sophomore class identity, providing academic support for major selection and changing, and finding leadership outlets for sophomores.
The measures Tack and others have adopted thus far for achieving these goals include a monthly sophomore newsletter titled Year 2 @ Tech and this year’s Sophomore Summit. Additionally, at the end of this semester is recruitment for a sophomore class council, which will brainstorm new programs and be a voice of advocacy for the class.
Brenda Morales, third-year BCHEM, serves as liaison between the Student Government Association and Sophomore Programs and as the student representative on the Sophomore Year Programs Advisory Board. She has also helped plan this year’s summit event and is a proponent for second years’ involvement.
“Sophomores should apply for Sophomore Summit,” said Morales, “because it is a program that has traditionally been—and remains—by sophomores, for sophomores,” Morales said.
Both Morales and Tack agree that the success programs will be invaluable assets to students’ second-year experiences.
“These goals will help sophomores by assisting them in rebuilding the sense of community that is lost in the move from Freshman Experience housing to upperclassmen or off-campus housing, and will additionally provide sophomores with resources that will aid them in developing leadership skill and in creating long-term goals,” said Morales.
Because Tech is one of the first schools developing a program for second year students, “there’s no cookie cutter mold for this,” said Tack.
He remains open for input from current students, saying he is “more than happy to meet with anyone about their sophomore experience.”
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